The true aim of this article is to place in context and to describe a generation of artists that was trained abroad, a generation that questioned the academism prevalent in Colombia in the second half of the 19th century. Colombian master artist Luis Alberto Acuña (1904–1984) was part of a generation that, starting in the thirties, formulated a reflection on the limits of “the national” in art and questioned the Colombian tradition. In this context it is not startling that, though the title of the text refers to 20th-century art, it covers, albeit briefly, even the pre-Columbian period.
The article provides an interesting discussion of the gradual emergence of new aesthetic ideas such as the concern with visually “pure elements” and the open rejection of the reigning picturesque aesthetic, which justified the demand to include “the vernacular” in art. According to Acuña, work as early as that of Colombian painter Roberto Pizano (1896–1929) evidenced the influence of French Impressionism, attesting to curiosity about the foreign artistic movements of the time. That curiosity gained ground thanks to the decisive experiences abroad of some artists, among them Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984), Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970), and Gonzalo Ariza (1912–1995).
It is significant that the article was written in Tacubaya, a neighborhood in western Mexico City. This is one of the first texts to recognize the important role played by Ramón Barba (1894–1964) and French artist Pierre Daguet (1910–1980) in giving shape to Colombian art, evidencing an intellectual framework that went beyond national borders. This, in turn, facilitated openness to international debates and tendencies.